Thursday, December 28, 2006

Malinche - Laura Esquivel

Malinche ( Malinalli) a mythical character from Mexical folklore and history , is arguably on of the most controversial figures in Mexico ( even after 5 centuries) is the story of the new book from Mexican Author Laura Esquivel. Malinche is considered as a traitor by the mexican people who had collaborated with the Spaniards on their conquest of the Aztec empire.
Laura Esquivel tries to put this story in a different perspective. "It is important to see [the Conquest] with different eyes and, hopefully, discover that the blood in our veins is the blood of all bloods; that our skin contains all colors; that our eyes contain all glances; that in Mexico, for the first time, the history of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America came together", as she puts in. Could be classified as another historical fiction, this book looks back at the conquest of Spanish invaders on the majestic Aztec empire.
From the author of "Like water for Chocolate", this novel is also very lyrical. Esquivel gets into the mind of Malinche and tries to put forward a different perspective to the whole history. Malinche , herself from a defeated tribe by Aztec , was later sold as a slave to the Spaniards by the rulers. With her intelligence and knowledge of the native language , she was given the charge of the interpreter "the tongue" by Hernan Cortes.
After the death of her father, her mother re-marry and sell the girl to the slave-traders. The only memory she carry about her childhood is that of the time she spend with her grand mother. Though blind, her grandmother is very well informed and takes the small girl through the culture and tales and helps her develop to appreciate the importance of Water, Air , fire and stars. Girl learns to develop codices and images and the mystical gods and goddesses become part of her life . She continue to live between the world of her gods, the Aztec beliefs and Spanish world and confused on the existence of her life and her experience.

Laura Esquivel is successful in transforming Malinche into a heroine of sorts while the whole world has seen her as a traitor. This novel is her struggle between two worlds , forced into the job of translator for Spaniards and she is clear that whoever wins, the loss is hers. In Cortes , she sees the personification of Quetzalcoatl ( pre-Aztec god), who will put an end to human sacrifice and free her people. But the massacres and his greed for gold disillusions her, and subsequent baptism into Christian belief of Spaniards challenges her to integrate the two belief systems.
This book is quite easy reading and does not have the magical realism, which set apart all the major latin american works. I would also think that the story was told in a haste and wanted to be within the boundary of the known historical facts. If she had considered a larger fiction with more scope to experimentation and detailing, we might have had a classic.

Malinche : by Laura Esquivel , Mexico.
Pages : 188
Price : INR 495

From History ( courtesy Wikipedia )
La Malinche (c.1496 – c.1529, some sources give 1551), known also as Malintzin and Doña Marina, was an Indigenous woman (almost certainly Nahuatl) from the Mexican Gulf Coast, who accompanied Hernán Cortés and played an active and powerful role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, acting as interpreter, advisor and intermediary. She was also a mistress to Cortés and bore him a son, who is considered one of the first Mestizos (people of mixed European and indigenous American ancestry). In Mexico today, La Malinche remains iconically potent, seen in various and often conflicting aspects, including the embodiment of treachery, the quintessential victim, or simply as symbolic mother of the new Mexican people. She is often referred to by the pejorative term "La Chingada".

Here is two links for more insight about Malinche. Both are wonderful article.

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